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post #12 of (permalink) Old 02-11-2020, 02:01 PM
Fishly
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Just want to remind people that disagreement and debate are healthy, normal, and important. Trolling is very different. Even if a debate devolves into a heated argument with personal insults, that's not the same as trolling.

The word "troll" comes from troll fishing, where fishermen put out several individual lines to catch fish instead of using a net. Likewise, internet trolls look for groups of people with a strong interest or belief in something and then leave comments that are meant to get people so flabbergasted they can't resist replying. The "troll" part refers to how they leave one or two comments in many different places, looking to see who will take the bait (atheistic comments on a religious group, vegan comments on a sausage making video, etc.).

The key difference is that most people argue because they want to convince the other person, but trolls argue because they want to keep the other person occupied. They'll use bad logic, make crazy claims and then nitpick any attempt to refute them, ask for multiple sources while providing few of their own, continue using a source after it's been debunked, try to change the topic of the argument whenever others start to make headway against it, point out fallacies in the hopes that others point out theirs so they can argue about semantics/proper debate techniques, and so on. They are entertained by the idea of riling people up, so seeing you invest so much energy debating them while they know they're arguing in bad faith is funny to them.

Nowadays the term means something like "irritating person", but some people take it too far and think any kind of argument or people expressing any negative emotion in an argument counts as trolling. And while some people do end up using such techniques when they're really passionate about a topic and frustrated with the person they're arguing with, that's not the same as being a troll. It's important for mods to step in when things get too intense to help people remember their manners, but debates are important for exploring and reconciling the differences in our experiences and understanding of how things work, so we shouldn't shy away from them.

Additionally, though it's good to step away from a debate if you feel you're not getting anywhere, there's another risk in prematurely dismissing an argumentative person as a troll: they might actually be right. If someone's being a jerk, sure, ignore them. But sometimes the people who are being "difficult" and saying things in contrast to the accepted norms are just the first people to have noticed an inconsistency or alternative.

Last edited by Fishly; 02-11-2020 at 02:13 PM. Reason: typo
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